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songwriting/literature skills

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by richardjones89, Jun 22, 2007.

  1. richardjones89


    Jun 6, 2007
    would you say having good literarcy skills matters in being a good songwriter?

    im average with vocabulary and have spent a couple of years now writing songs, not feeling very satisfied overall by my work. i feel i dont know enough words and what they mean to get my meanings across. now i dont plan on doing any english course of any kind, but id like to be a good songwriter.

    any suggestions?
  2. Loempiaketzer


    Dec 2, 2006
    You arrent an english speaking guy by nature i guess so, why not take on your own native language?

    Im dutch, and for a time i really disliked dutch songs because the text was queer and sounded lame. But then i did something that changed it a bit.

    Take youre favorite song,
    listen to the text and search for the lyrics if you dont know them,
    translate them to your native language
    compare queer-ness to your native songs of the same catagory.

    It worked fine for me :)
    Not that im writing songs, but it should be much more easyer writing in you native language. the only problem i think you have is that you dont like the sound.

    If youre not going international it doesnt matter if you're english or russian or i dont know what.

    If you still want to do english way,

    -books with words that rhyme
    -english class
    -english movies
    -english songs
    everything english, when you dont know a word, find its meaning in a translation book or something

    hope this will help, a bit
  3. I do think so, certainly. My favorite lyricists are John Darnielle, Colin Meloy, Shane McGowan, Bob Dylan... all quite well-read or just obviously lexically talented.

    Here's a suggestion, the same suggestion that you'll get from any fiction or poetry teacher: show, don't tell. When you say you have trouble getting your meanings across, it gives me the feeling you're trying to write about some universal theme in some abstract way... this usually results in a mess. Tell an interesting story, instead. So instead of "the world is so totally cruel sometimes, darkness and anguish surround us, blaahhhhh" do something like "yesterday I watched a child drown a kitten in a shallow pool. He smiled as he squeezed its life out, bubble by bubble."

    Gets the same theme across, but in rather a more engaging and evocative way, wouldn't you say?
  4. Bard2dbone


    Aug 4, 2002
    Arlington TX
    And creepy, too. :help:

    Having a strong literary background certainly helps. Get comfortable with the language on a deeper level than conversationally. I have been frustrated by writing lyrics that no one understood more often than I care to remember.

    For example: There is an old saying ; 'The road to hell is paved with good intentions.' which means people often do the wrong thing for the right reasons. I used the phrase 'a road that's paved with good intentions' in one of my songs. Nobody got it. I thought everyone knew that old saying, but around one person out of ten seemed to get it without being told.

    Another example: When dice tumble together before being thrown, that tumbling motion is called a 'Gamblers Dance'. I used the phrase "Life is just a game of chance/ A flip of the coin, a gamblers dance." Again, nobody got it.

    So it is also important to aim your lyrics at the actual awareness/intelligence level of your intended audience. Don't use phrases so obscure that no one will get them. My problem was that I often overestimated the inteligence of my audience. *sighs*
  5. richardjones89


    Jun 6, 2007
    to an extent people have to relate to a song somehow, but it doesnt mean that they have to relate with everything within it. if you read some of the very early manic street preachers lyrics they are deep and meaningful but i dont know the meanings to most of them. i still see them as poetically awesome though. i dont see the story behind most of the songs, but i get the theme. im talking particulary off the albums generation terrorists, gold aganst the soul and the holy bible.

    richey edwards used to be with them when they first started out and he could write amazing lyrics. its a shame that he had to disappear one day...

    heres an example: http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/manicstreetpreachers/methadonepretty.html

    so relating this to your lyrics, and reading them and noticing the craft, your lyrics do sound pretty decent. a hell of a lot better than mine i might add :p even though you used those sayings so people could 'relate', they sound good even if nobody can see the meaning :)
  6. ryco


    Apr 24, 2005
    Write like you talk - it comes out more authentic.

    Of course as you learn and use more words and incorporate them into your everyday conversational voice, the bigger voabulary you'll have to work with.
  7. Bard2dbone


    Aug 4, 2002
    Arlington TX
    Actually, that's another good point. When you come up with a phrase that seems to fit the songs really well but doesn't make sense verbally...throw it out and start over on that line.

    The WHOLE phrase doesn't have to work as conversation. But if it uses a word you don't actually use yourself, it'll sound fake. And if you use words you DO us but change them around to make them fit the rhythm/rhyme scheme of the line? First say them out loud that way. If they don't make sense, the line won't work. Throw it out and try again.
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